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A Life In Books: The Rise and Fall of Bleu Mobley Hardcover – October 29, 2013

5.0 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"In A Life In Books, Warren Lehrer has written a profound commentary on this nausea-inducing unique moment in the grand transition from Silly Mind to Machine Mind. Amusingly and smartly enough, he may have helped transition 'the last great American novel' to the first 'great illustrated novel' which is how novels started. A Life In Books is brilliant, beautiful, delicious for eyes and mind.”
Andrei Codrescu, public radio commentator, editor Exquisite Corpse, novelist, poet

"In Warren Lehrer’s ingenious, one-of-kind novel, A Life In Books: The Rise and Fall of Bleu Mobley, we see all the covers of all 101 books supposedly written by the narrator over the last several decades... A tour-de-force!"
Kurt Andersen, Studio 360

"For anyone who has ever resisted judging a book by its cover, now's your chance: In A Life In Books, author and graphic design visionary Warren Lehrer crafts a vivid kaleidoscopic odyssey that frames one man's life through not one, but one hundred different books—and book jackets. In this quirky, yet unmistakably modern evocation of the illuminated manuscript, Lehrer's book reminds us that we are what we do. And, for that matter, what we publish."
Jessica Helfand, founding editor Design Observer, graphic designer, writer, educator

“A meticulously illustrated chronicle… Lehrer’s 101 cover designs for Mobley’s books are pitch perfect. And like the best film title sequences, which establish moods or introduce plotlines, these fictional covers are vehicles by which Lehrer illuminates Mobley’s tale of success and failure. By no means a portfolio; Lehrer has created a parallel art world”
Steven Heller, The Atlantic

"A tour de force of graphic design, illustration and writing. Exploiting a wide range of illustration styles to delight the eye, Lehrer offers a funny, thought-provoking and refreshing twist on the graphic novel… Guaranteed to bring a smile."
Ken Carbone, The Huffington Post

“Warren Lehrer has spent a decade writing and designing a book that is way more than a book. A blend of writing and design, which extends to performance art… A Life in Books: The Rise and Fall of Bleu Mobley is a typographical and design tour de force.”
Ellen Shapiro, Print Magazine

"Warren Lehrer's novel A Life In Books is a masterpiece of visual storytelling, boldly integrating illustration and typography into its engaging story."
David Gutowski, Largehearted Boy

“In the era of cookie-cutter books and rubber-stamped stories, Warren Lehrer’s A Life In Books is fresh, original, idiosyncratic, beautiful, and important.”
Rabih Alameddine, novelist and painter, author of Koolaids, I, the Divine, The Perv, Hakawati

“Warren Lehrer is witty, ingenious, sly, serious, a graphic wizard and literary innovator. His crazily ambitious illuminated novel uses art and artifice to test our assumptions about how life is supposed to be in modern America… So much more than a book, A Life In Books is an experience… at once revealing and mysterious, a commentary on ego, celebrity and American society… It plays like literary jazz: Lehrer’s fingers pumping up and down on the keys, laying down pungent notes, sparkling phrases, lilting tunes about who we are and where we are going.”
Dan Bailes, The Vision Thing

“Hilarious… thrilling… genre-crossing… One of only a handful of makers of the past few decades who have consistently created longer form works claimed by the canon-makers as part of the fledgling field that is sometimes called Artists’ Books, Warren Lehrer’s new ‘illuminated novel’ tells the story of a fictional writer, designer, raconteur, entrepreneur, and eventual prisoner… Mobley’s 101 books form a kind of history of public intellectualism, resonant with people like Buckminster Fuller, William Gaddis and the Oulipo movement. Mobley’s oeuvre and narrative is very funny, of course, but in a sad-but-true kind of way.”
Tate Shaw, Afterimage

“Warren Lehrer’s A Life in Books deserves broad recognition. It provides a profound reflection on narrative and the boundaries of truth and fiction, as well as on writing and the status of the book as a medium. It broadens the scope of authorship through its use of beautifully designed covers and well-crafted expressive typography, as well as through a very fluid, readable and witty writing style encompassing many genres, discourses, and invented genres… Its protagonist paints a panoramic portrait of America—of humanity—one person at a time, frequently giving voice to ordinary people, to the rejected and disenfranchised… A micro-history of book-making, this book indeed lives up to its title: the life of Mobley is told through the books which illuminate the novel, and the reader is offered a behind-the-scenes look at the artist and the creative process. Lehrer is a book composer, as Bleu Mobley would have it, and his composition is well worth interacting with.”
Kristof Van Gansen, Image [&] Narrative

"A Life in Books: The Rise & Fall of Blue Mobley, a gorgeously produced multi-color “novel,” is a brilliant meditation on the state of publishing in the 21st Century. What is truth? What is fiction? Who is “me,” am I my nom de plume, and how can I turn us into a franchise… or maybe even into two?! By the time you reach page 330 with pictures of Bleu’s Book Lamps, you’ll be laughing through your tears... I can’t think of a better gift."
Tsiviah Huttner, Second City Tzivi

"In scope, execution and ambition, A Life In Books is an extraordinary book. Like a monk’s painstaking production of an illuminated manuscript, it took Lehrer seven years to pull off. There’s also a contest, a travelling exhibition with video, and a performance/reading tour… Lehrer’s books are like nothing you’ve ever seen before.”
Lucy Sisman, Wwword

"The coolest book ever." Designers and Books

"Stories told with humor, pathos, poetry, drama and the absurd…” Brownstoner Queens

"A Life In Books is unique, incredible, affecting, meticulous, the perfect hide-and-seek game, and honestly, one of those works that seems so obvious and fertile as a structure, it’s hard to believe it hasn’t been done before. Am I gushing? I just love it. This is an important book."
Stephen Farrell, design innovator, Vas An Opera In Flatland and Toc: A New Media Novel
Awards


"A genre-defying night that fuses art and literature, prose and design into a multi-media presentation unlike any other." Skylight Books

WINNER 2014 IPPY (Independent Publisher) Outstanding Book of the Year Award for Most Original Concept
“A stunningly unique take on the novel that unabashedly explores the relationship between the narrator and reader, as well as the fragile and often blurry line that distinguishes truth and fiction. With A Life in Books, Lehrer has upended the modern novel form and its narrative limitations, creating a rich and engaging story through visual literature. Mindblowing... reality bending... a laugh riot and visual feast.”

WINNER 2015 Best New Fiction (International Book Award)
WINNER 2015 Wild Card Award (Paris Book Festival)
WINNER 2014 Best New Fiction Award (USA Best Books)
WINNER Print Magazine Regional Design Award
WINNER Next Generation Indie Book Award
WINNER National Indie Book Award
WINNER CBAA Exhibition Prize


Winner of the 2014 IPPY OUTSTANDING BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARD (Independent Publishing Awards) in the category of "Most Original Concept."

About the Author

Warren Lehrer is a writer, designer, and multimedia artist known as a pioneer in the fields of visual literature and design authorship. His books, acclaimed for capturing the shape of thought and reuniting the traditions of storytelling with the printed page, include: "Crossing the BLVD: strangers, neighbors, aliens in a New America"; "The Portrait Series: a quartet of men" (four book suite); "GRRRHHHHH: a study of social patterns"; "French Fries; i mean you know; and versations." He has received many awards for his books and multimedia projects including: the Brendan Gill Prize, the Innovative Use of Archives Award, three AIGA Book Awards, two Type Director's Club Awards, the International Book Design Award, a Media That Matters Award, a NY Book Show Best of the Best Award, and a Prix Arts Electronica Award. He's received fellowships and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council and Foundation for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and others. His work has been exhibited widely and is in many collections including MoMA, LA County Art Museum, The Getty Museum, Georges Pompidou Centre, and Tate Gallery. Lehrer is also a performer, and has co-written four plays, one opera, co-composed two audio CDs, and he co-produces public radio documentaries and audio works with his wife Judith Sloan. Lehrer is a professor at the School of Art+Design at Purchase College, SUNY, and a founding faculty member of the Designer As Author grad program at the School of Visual Arts. Together with Sloan, Lehrer founded EarSay, a non-profit arts organization dedicated to uncovering and portraying the lives of the uncelebrated in print, on stage, on radio, in exhibitions, electronic media, and through educational programs in public schools, community centers, and prisons.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 380 pages
  • Publisher: Goff Books (October 29, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 193962102X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1939621023
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 8 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #934,695 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Christopher Robbins on November 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Such a cool book! It's basically prison diaries told through the books the prisoner wrote before (and while) he's in prison. But it's not like a "normal" book, because it is full of photos of each of the 101 books the prisoner wrote, so it flips between characters and voices and alter-egos and reviews and clippings and notes. You can just dip in anywhere, flip through for the pictures, or read it start to end.
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Format: Hardcover
Gorgeously produced multi-color "novel" is a brilliant meditation on the state of publishing in the 21st Century (What is truth? What is fiction? Who is "me," am I my nom de plum, & how can I turn "myself" into a franchise?!?) By the time you reach page 330 with pictures of Bleu's Book Lamps, you'll be laughing thru your tears. Somewhere in the Great Beyond, Sholem Aleichem is kvelling about this new great-grandson :-)
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A LIFE IN BOOKS is the story of a man who falls in love with print, books and publishing in high school (in the early 60s) and through his lifelong involvement traces the evolution of the publishing industry during the last half century of tumultuous change. And he does it by having his protagonist, Bleu Mobley, actually write those books and give the reader the first chapter of some 101 books (along with their covers, catalogue copy and flap copy) - an act of literary invention that calls to mind the works of Fernanado Pessoa or Orhan Pamuk's THE MUSEUM OF INNOCENCE. An astonishing tour de force, totally engrossing.
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A Life in Books, is the latest brilliant work by Warren Lehrer. This is a worthy follow-up to his other books, Crossing the Boulevard, French Fries and I Mean You Know. Warren Lehrer, a talented story teller, mixes text and images in unique ways that straddle the line between experimental literature and purely visual artists' books. Each of the 101 books referenced in the subtitle are imaginatively and often humorously illustrated. On page after page, Lehrer lays out his clever and often touching narrative text along with his almost chameleon-like graphic design skills. This is a must-have book for anyone interested in new and original book works.
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Format: Hardcover
Sometimes, we read a book or see a movie & it is almost impossible to believe that someone really wrote it, but for the fact that it was written. Bleu Mobley is one of those books! A mesmerizing & fun novel that brings us intimately into the life of Bleu Mobley & is so beautifully designed that it should remain permanently as the coffee table centerpiece, when you can finally put it down!
Lehrer is a creative genius whose 'A Life in Books: The Rise and Fall of Bleu Mobley' will do what only the rare novels will do....leave you thinking about it & talking about it & buying the book for loved ones. & wanting the author to write & design & write & design ad infinitum......
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Format: Hardcover
This is an incredible book...no forgive me, this is a work of art. The story is a page turner and the concept of including the books of the protagonist within the story is truly unique. But what is most impressive and irresistable is the book itself. Printed on museum quality paper and illustrated like an art book, its the kind of book you want to have on display in your home at all times. I have given the book as a gift as it is an item everyone I know can appreciate. Great for a book group selection or a personal library. Can't say enough to recommend this book.
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I'm impressed with the multiple story lines, Mobley 's bio and the mechanics of this book. It's great writing and great reading.
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Format: Hardcover
A Life In Books combines the felicity of genre fiction and the fun of a graphic novel. It blurs the line between the two and forms a new genre. It moves in and out of reality and fiction. The writing is rich in detail and profound in a way that at points you will feel this has happened to you, and you know these people -- be they the characters from Bleu Mobley’s life or from his books (the two intertwine throughout).

As a designer, it is a pleasure to turn the page and find something surprising, on every page! A Life In Books wraps you in a humor that is dark and real. It finds humor inside the darkest moments of your life and gives it a new perspective.

Bleu Mobley’s book covers (there are actually more than advertised 101) form a panorama of book design history and theory. I basked in every page, enjoying Lehrer’s riffs on so many different genres, from Dada to modernist to contemporary, yet it all comes together as one person’s signature/life’s work (Mobley is said to have designed all the covers of his books, as well as many of the interiors).

Whether you are a designer or an artist or writer or just a lover of beautifully written and put together books, this book bridges art and reality, is poignant and deep while teaching you not to take it all so seriously. A must read!
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